The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, said the power ministry has no record of corrupt contractors who ran away with government money without executing awarded contracts.
Fashola said he had searched the record of the power ministry and he could not find any such contractor.
The minister stated this in a January 27 letter which he wrote to anti-corruption group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project.
SERAP had upper week sued Fashola at the Federal High Court in Lagos, seeking an order to compel him to publish the names of alleged defaulting contractors engaged by the Ministry of Power.
The group had said it resorted to suing Fashola after the minister allegedly shunned its request under the Freedom of Information Act for the names of the defaulting contractors.
In a statement on Sunday by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP, however, received Fashola’s letter dated January 27 only on February 7, after it had gone to court.
The statement quoted the letter, signed on Fashola’s behalf by the Director of Legal Services in the Ministry of Power, Mrs Shoetan A. A., to have read partly, “I am directed to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated 4th January 2019 in which you applied for request to disclose details of alleged corrupt contractors and companies that collected money for electricity projects but failed to execute any projects. The request has been handled under the FOI Act.
“We have searched the ministry’s record and the information you applied for is not held by the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing (Power Sector).”
However, SERAP said it was not satisfied with the response and therefore urged Fashola to “take proactive steps to obtain the information from any other public institution or agency that may be holding the requested information, and to send to us the information without further delay.”
It urged Fashola not to wait until he was compelled by the court to oblige its request for the list of alleged corrupt contractors working with the power ministry.
SERAP’s demand followed a claim by former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar that some contractors, who were awarded electricity contracts, disappeared after being fully paid for the contracts.
“The money went down the drain. Up till now, we are not holding the contractors responsible. People have collected money upfront 100 per cent and have disappeared; and they have not done any work,” Atiku was quoted to have said during a programme on Channels TV.